Unwavering Dedication

Sr. Diana Jean praying

As the sun rises on Sunday, July 28, the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon (SSMO) will come together to celebrate a special milestone – the 25th Jubilee of Sister Diana Jean Neumayer. 

The Sisters’ annual Jubilee event marks Sr. Diana Jean’s 25 years of commitment to religious life and reflects on her incredible journey of unwavering dedication to her parents, children, grandchildren and Sisters. From her early years to her current role at the SSMO Motherhouse, Sister Diana Jean’s story is one of dedication to and love for others.

Early Life and Education

Sr. Diana Jean childhood family photo
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Sister Diana Jean recently shared insights into her upbringing, emphasizing the close-knit nature of her family. “I was born in Southern California, in Redlands. I’m the oldest of three, and we were close in age. There’s only three years difference between myself and my younger sister with my brother in between,” she said. Highlighting the deep family connections to Redlands, she added, “I went to the same grade school that my father had gone to. We actually had the same fourth grade teacher and the same principal.” This continuity extended to high school as well, where she noted, “I was the third generation to graduate from Redlands High School, and my kids were the fourth generation. So we have had a long history there.”

Sister Diana Jean pursued higher education at Chapman University, earning a degree in home economics. She initially started a teaching career but soon realized it was not her true calling. “I taught for a couple of years, but did not love it,” she admitted. Seeking a different path, she obtained a degree in accounting from California State University, San Bernardino, and spent many years in the accounting profession. 

Family Life

Sr. Diana Jean and her children in CA.
Sr. Diana Jean with her grown children

Sister Diana Jean’s family life in Southern California was marked by normalcy and stability. Her daughter Jennifer was born on April Fool’s Day, and her son Kevin arrived three years later on Easter Sunday. “They grew up in the normal kind of Southern California fashion,” she said. While she worked full-time, her children participated in sports and several everyday activities.

The move to Oregon was driven by a desire for a safer environment and a fresh start. “Southern California was getting to be somewhat of a rough place to live. I was just ready for something else,” she explained. Despite initial resistance from her children, they eventually settled in Oregon, with her daughter moving up first and later converting to Catholicism along with her husband.

Later on, Sister Diana Jean revealed her decision to join the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon to her daughter as they were heading to Washington Square Mall. “My announcement almost made my daughter drive off the road,” Sister Diana Jean reflected with a smile. “She said, well, that’s not how I imagined the grandmother of my children.”

After her family’s initial reactions, they all became supportive of Sr. Diana Jean’s religious life. Especially as they spent time with the Sisters and were able to become more comfortable with the idea.

Religious Journey

Sr. Diana Jean with Srs. Catherine Hertel and Josephine Pelster
Sr. Diana Jean and her mother

Sister Diana Jean’s journey to Catholicism was gradual. “I grew up in the Presbyterian church,” she said, noting that her mother had attended Catholic school and was knowledgeable about the faith. It was not until she moved to Oregon that she explored Catholicism further. “After many years, almost 50, I moved to Oregon and became well acquainted with the Catholic Church and decided to convert,” she shared.

Her discernment towards becoming a Sister began unexpectedly. On her first visit to Beaverton, she noticed the Sisters’ Convent while driving to Mass. “I got to the corner of Murray Boulevard and Tualatin Valley Highway and noticed this big building with a dome on the roof. I thought, ‘Wow, what a beautiful place.’ Never did I dream that in about six years I would be living in that big building,” she recounted. 

After moving to Oregon and joining the Catholic Church, she started to feel something was missing and began noticing discernment retreats. “I kept putting them off then one weekend I finally called Sister Catherine Hertel and said, ‘I think I’m supposed to come visit with you,’” she recalled. This phone call marked the beginning of her journey towards becoming a Sister.

Professional Skills in Service

Sister Rita Watkins In The Driver S Seat Building For The Future
Sr. Diana Jean Accounting

Sister Diana Jean’s background in accounting has been very useful to the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon. “I always enjoyed my time as an accountant. I was very fortunate to be able to spend a number of years working in our finance department,” she said. The years she spent in the finance department and the library were helpful for the entire SSMO campus community.

Challenges and Faith

Sr. Diana Jean with mom, daughter and grand child

One of the biggest challenges Sister Diana Jean faced was being away from her parents during their final moments. “I was not in California when either my mother or father died,” she said. Despite feeling a sense of guilt, she found comfort in her faith. “God has a wonderful way of just soothing over those hurts and helping me realize that they are with God now,” she reflected.

Memorable Moments

Sr. Diana Jean and grandkids on beach
Sr. Diana Jean and grandkids

Among Sister Diana Jean’s cherished moments is how her family has connected with SSMO and Valley Catholic School. “My Sisters have always enjoyed spending time with my children and their families. Also, with my grandchildren attending Valley Catholic School, I am blessed to support them, cheer them on, and watch them grow up right here on the Sisters’ campus,” she shares. 

Looking Forward

Sr. Diana Jean and family
Sr. Diana Jean and family

“God has blessed me in so many ways,” she shares, her voice filled with emotion. “This Jubilee is a celebration of those blessings and a reminder of His faithfulness. I am excited to see what the future holds and to continue serving Him with all my heart.”

As Sr. Diana Jean celebrates her Jubilee, we join her in giving thanks for the many blessings she has received and the countless lives she has touched. May her story inspire us all to listen to God’s call in our own lives, to serve others with love and compassion, and to live our faith with dedication and joy.

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